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Women in UX: Eugenia Jongewaard about developing UX maturity

"Always advocate for the users. Be conscious of the power of your job and take responsibility. Saying “no” and asking “why” is a design skill. Don´t stop learning!" - Eugenia

Today we are talking with Eugenia Jongewaard. Eugenia is a Senior UX/CX Consultant who works at Nestle Global Digital Hub and helps the organization grow their UX Maturity. She’s also a YouTuber at UXTips where she shares design insights for the Spanish design community.

In her interview with UXtweak, Eugenia shares with us the story of her own evolution in UX Design while working in different sectors, from being part of a growing start-up to working at one of the largest food companies in the world. And all of this while working remotely for almost her entire career.

Tell us a little bit more about yourself: why did you get into design and what was your background?

When finishing school, I started to explore the new digital world by creating my first website in Microsoft FrontPage. Yes! It has been a long time! I then continued my studies in Multimedia Design. At that time, I just wanted to create websites for fun until one day I saw a book called “Designing Web Usability” by Jakob Nielsen and that changed my perspective completely. 

I learned at that moment about the power and impact of design in people’s lives and thus I continued my path into usability and accessibility web design. So I broke into design for fun, but I stayed for the value and its capacity for effect change.

women in UX: Eugenia Jongewaard

How was your evolution to now being a UX/CX Consultant?

Along this journey, I worked in different sectors and from different clients on side-projects. I took many online courses, workshops, and attended several UX events around the world. Being always active and connected with the UX design community helped me go through this process with more confidence. But since I am a very curious person, I have always tried to complement my design skills with other fields. 

After a couple of years working as a usability and accessibility consultant, I joined Zendesk where I shifted my career into the startup business. This wonderful journey instilled in me a strong passion for Customer Experience as well as for authenticity and transparency at work, some of the core values at Zendesk.

Can you tell us a bit more about your time working at Zendesk? What was it like to be one of the first employees in such a fast-growing startup?

During my years in this fast-growing start-up, I wore many hats. I collaborated with areas like Marketing, Customer Success and Support to help the company expand their business to the LATAM market. 

Being one of the first employees helped me to have the opportunity to propose new ideas and implement them right away without having to go through a lot of approval processes. One simple but powerful need that I identified and solved right away was to start talking to the LATAM customers in their own language.

I not only started to speak with them in my native Spanish language but I also improved my Portuguese and helped the company expand to the Brazilian market. Providing this personalized experience is normally not common at the early stages of a start-up and this helped them tighten their relationship with their customers.

This experience helped me have a broader vision of the user experience. I understood the impact that customer support service has on it, and at the same time, I incorporated other skills coming from my marketing experience that I applied later to my YouTube Channel. And all of this while traveling around the world, since I was working 100% remotely!

Growing a Design Community

Eugenia Jongewaard

What inspired you to create UXTips YouTube channel? What was your initial intent, what message did you want to bring out there?

I always liked sharing ideas and knowledge with the design community. Before UXTips, I had a blog where I shared content about accessibility. The digital design community was small at that time, we practically knew each other. Then I stopped sharing for a while and started to feel very bad about it.

I missed the interaction with other designers and since I was working remotely, I needed that connection back. So when I discovered Sketch in 2016, I had a big desire to share with others my learning process with this tool.

But that was not the only trigger – I was also starting some new side-projects and dealing with some clients that were not seeing the value of UX. So I got frustrated. “How come after all these years UX was still something new and confusing?”

My desire in bringing awareness about UX got bigger than my impostor syndrome and my fear of putting my face out there to the entire audience. I also wanted to invite the Spanish design community to be more open and not be afraid of sharing knowledge. 

I had no idea that after 5 years I was going to have +40K subscribers, +1,400 students in my courses, and help so many people start their career in UX and get hired on their first job!

Being the first channel to talk about UX in Spanish 5 years ago, how would you say the scene has changed since then?

Oh, the scene has changed a lot! Now I don’t feel alone in sharing Spanish UX content on YouTube! Haha! There are more YouTube channels in Spanish, but I think it is the Podcasts that have grown the most in recent years.

UX Designers also started to realize the importance of personal brand for their careers, the power that sharing knowledge and talking with the communities has to grow your skills.

UX Maturity

women in ux: Eugenia Jongewaard

You mentioned that now you are working on growing the UX Maturity at Nestle. What would you say are some of the main challenges of growing UX Maturity in large organizations?

The first challenge in growing UX Maturity in large organizations is dealing with siloed departments. As organizations grow, decision-making moves further from end users, and the structure of the organization starts to show up in our product designs. We need to work hard in breaking these silos first by facilitating and bringing the alignment back.

Another big challenge is demonstrating clearly the ROI/value of UX. This will ensure adoption of the process and the mindset in product teams.

But in my opinion, the most important challenge is shifting the culture to a more user-centric way of working. UX maturity – it’s not just about hiring UX designers or restructuring the organization, it’s about installing a user-centric culture, which is a journey that takes time. So, we have to be patient and take our time to walk the process!

What would you say is the most exciting thing about your job?

Seeing how people start adopting a user-centered mindset in all they do, not only for product development, but also realizing the value of good design in people’s lives. Helping others to grow their empathy towards users is the most rewarding task.

How would you describe the career stage you’re currently at? And what are your plans for the future?

For the world, I am currently a Senior UX/CX Consultant, but I would describe myself as a constant learner and a curious mind that cannot stop exploring other areas and disciplines to connect with User Experience Design.

My plans for the near future are to keep growing UXTips and to start a coaching program that you can see on the link of my Instagram profile @uxtipsonline but soon to be on my website. Stay tuned!

What is your message to other people in the UX industry?

Always advocate for the users. Be conscious of the power of your job and take responsibility. Saying “no” and asking “why” is a design skill. Don´t stop learning!

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